Dangerous Tropical Storm Irene headed for the Dominican Republic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:38 PM GMT on August 21, 2011

Share this Blog
48
+

Tropical Storm Irene roared into life last night, transitioning from a tropical wave to a 50 mph tropical storm in just a few short hours. Irene is getting organized quickly, and has the potential to become a hurricane by Monday morning. All interests in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and South Florida should prepare for the arrival of this dangerous storm. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm found the strongest winds near 18°N latitude to the north of Irene's center at 8am this morning. After passing through the center, the plane returned to the area of strongest winds two hours later, and found that flight level winds at 5,000 feet had increased by about 5 - 8 mph. However, the pressure in the latest center fix taken at 10am EDT remained the same as two hours previously, 1007 mb, and the plane noted that Irene's center was not circular, signs that the storm still has some work to do before serious intensification can begin. Visible satellite loops and radar out of Martinique show the storm has rapidly organized this morning, with well-developed spiral bands forming and a large area of intense thunderstorms to the north of the center. Irene has shrugged off the dry air that was bothering it yesterday, and wind shear has fallen to the low range, 5 - 10 knots, as analyzed by the University of Wisconsin CIMSS group. Torrential rains and strong gusty winds are affecting the northern Lesser Antilles this morning. A wind gust of 41 mph was recorded at St. Eustatius at 8am local time.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Irene.

Track forecast for Irene
The computer models are in agreement that Irene will pass just south of Puerto Rico tonight, then hit the south coast of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic or Haiti on Monday afternoon. Irene should then emerge into the channel between Haiti and Cuba on Tuesday afternoon, when the storm will have 12 or so hours over water before having to contend with Cuba. A trough of low pressure is expected to move across the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, turning Irene to the northwest and north by Thursday. The timing and strength of this trough varies considerably from model to model, and will be critical in determining where and when Irene will turn to the north. Irene's strength will also matter--a stronger Irene is more likely to turn northward earlier. The most likely path for Irene is a track just east of the Florida Peninsula and into Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina by next weekend, but a landfall near Miami then directly up the Florida Peninsula is also a reasonable solution--like Tropical Storm Fay of 2008 did. Fay formed just off the coast of Puerto Rico, and was never quite able to get organized enough to become a hurricane, due to passage over Hispaniola and Cuba. Fay topped out as a strong tropical storm with 70 mph winds, and did over $500 million in damage in the U.S., mostly due to flooding rains in Florida that accumulated to over 25 inches in a few areas. Fay also dumped heavy rains on Hispaniola, triggering flooding that claimed eight lives.


Figure 2. Track of Tropical Storm Fay of 2008.

Intensity forecast for Irene
Irene is embedded in a large envelope of moisture now, and wind shear will remain low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. With water temperatures very warm, 28 - 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification except when land is interfering. Irene's current appearance on satellite loops gives me the impression of a storm that is not fooling around, and I expect Irene will be a hurricane before hitting Hispaniola on Monday. Passage over Hispaniola will not destroy Irene, since it is a fairly large storm. Once the storm finishes with Hispaniola, it will have to deal with Cuba, which will keep Irene from intensifying significantly. Once Irene pops off the coast of Cuba Wednesday or Thursday into the Florida Straits, Irene will likely be a tropical storm. If the storm then has at least a day over water before hitting land, it will likely become a hurricane again, and could become a major hurricane if it ends up missing South Florida and moving over the warm waters on either side of the Florida Peninsula.

Harvey hits Belize
Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall at 2pm EDT on Saturday near Dangriga Town, Belize, as a tropical storm with 60 mph winds. Harvey continues to dump very heavy rains on southern Mexico, but dissipation is expected tonight as the storm pushes inland. Harvey was a small storm, and the strongest winds were confined to a short stretch of coast near where the center came ashore. Winds at Belize City, Belize on Saturday topped out at 15 mph.


Figure 3. Radar image of Harvey taken at 11:30am EDT on Saturday, August 20, 2011, a few hours before landfall in Belize. A small closed eye is visible just south of the offshore islands of Belize. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Invest 98L northwest of the Cape Verde Islands
A tropical wave few hundred miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, Invest 98L, has become disorganized and lost most of its heavy thunderstorms. The disturbance is moving over colder waters and encountering drier air, and NHC is giving 98L only a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Tuesday. The latest set of model runs keep 98L well out to sea away from any land areas over the next five days.

Links
Long-range radar out of Puerto Rico

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 5973 - 5923

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 134 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160Blog Index

i wounder if this will pull a anderw anderw did pull a RI when it was comeing too S FL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5972. 7544
gfs west closer to so fla this run hmmmmm
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5971. mbjjm
Quoting scCane:
Hmmm, the FIM model seems to have captured this west trend quite well

Link


It also captured the direct hit to St.Croix from yesterday

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5970. Dennis8
Quoting sullivanweather:




ABOUT TO MAKE LANDFALL and begin weakening..lets hope it stays over land enough to bring down intensity and rainfall
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 446
5969. nigel20
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5968. Drakoen
GFS 00z has shifted a little to the west and is now dangerously close to the treasure coast of Florida.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sullivanweather:




What you called the center IMO seems to me to be the southern side of the eye....maybe that is why I am seeing Irene moving into east coast of PR...while others are seeing it move along the south coast of PR...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 444 Comments: 3619
5966. GetReal
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Right off the Florida coast in 96 hours, moving NW.




With that picture a stall would not surprise me at 96 hours. It will be locked in by high pressure all around it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5965. Bielle
Quoting Unfriendly:


my bad - reposted and bolded someone elses without reading timestamp. thought we had a cane there for a sec - even though pretty sure we do for all intensive purposes.


Love "all intensive purposes"!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Recon plane going east toward NE side of storm.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7910
Quoting TampaFLUSA:

Irene might travel the whole island of Hispanola and weaken it to a minimal tropical storm.




i would not trust the steering layer i would trust where are storms head out when its done with PR
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5962. tarps3
Hr 96



Hr 102

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


The opposite.


But...the GFS was showing a track already into the east coast (GA/SC/NC)...a shift further left is more like into the heart of FL...right?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 444 Comments: 3619
are the UKMET & GFDL model runs drinking? They still have the storm heading quite a ways west, where every other model has NW to NNW to N solutions? It has the forecast cones pretty broad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Very close to making a south/central Florida landfall.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5958. JRRP
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting will40:
i still dont think gfs is buying the GOM like the Nam did


I honestly think that the GOMEX is out of the woods for this one. I feel like mentioning the GOMEX instead of the Carolinas is just a waste of time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The GFDL Model and UKMET just might be correct.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5953. Drakoen
Quoting NCHurricane2009:



...that is a tight squeeze...does this mean that a track up the east coast is not as likely...

Also...does anyone think the 500 mb heights in future models will increase to bridge that weakness....COMPLETELY CHANGING THE BALL GAME?


The opposite.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:


Don't wake a sleeping blogger LMAO

Gone now for sure.



now that was funny lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting melwerle:
Glad I got rid of my house in Savannah two years ago. Sitting in Sandy Eggo and thinking and praying for everyone that is wondering about Irene's path. Always lurking but not much to say here. I am still a junkie - my best to everyone.


Hey mel! Glad you got out when you did- I dragged my storm shutters out of the garage today. Not many people here in town know about the threat yet, and those who do are dismissive.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 18 Comments: 2316
5949. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
hate to do this to pr but

RI FLAG (FLAG)


its the witching hour
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:
New steering layer


Irene might travel the whole island of Hispanola and weaken it to a minimal tropical storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
looks like S FL is back in the game
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
Irene will have to squeeze through the CONUS ridge and the Subtropical ridge:

what happens if it's close?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7910
5945. will40



i dont see a lot of difference
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5944. scCane
Hmmm, the FIM model seems to have captured this west trend quite well

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hunkerdown:
well that was a short nap...


Don't wake a sleeping blogger LMAO

Gone now for sure.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This model run should be discounted IMO, initialized too weak, runs it too weak.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5940. JLPR2
Quoting ProgressivePulse:



Only 5mph away, rather insignificant.


Yep, it's moving at 15mph so a little more than hour for it to gain 5mph.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Right off the Florida coast in 96 hours, moving NW.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
Irene will have to squeeze through the CONUS ridge and the Subtropical ridge:




...that is a tight squeeze...does this mean that a track up the east coast is not as likely...

Also...does anyone think the 500 mb heights in future models will increase to bridge that weakness....COMPLETELY CHANGING THE BALL GAME?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 444 Comments: 3619
5937. tarps3
HR 84

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5936. xcool


84hrs
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:
New steering layer



That seems to support a more northerly trajectory. South Carolina or hopefully a miss.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5934. TX2FL
Oh my..I took a weekend to go out of town, and Irene blew up, changed course from what the models were all pointing at for the past 5 days..and wondering how my work week will go now as a result of Irene..wow..

I work in the airline industry so may be called upon to help out at a crisis airport once the storm passes. Wondering which one it could be...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:
New steering layer

well that was a short nap...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5932. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
09L/H/I/C1
MARK
17.80n/65.39w

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
While convection appearance has expanded over the last several hours, the deepest convection also looks to have gotten more disorganized and looks to have moved around the circulation and has become heavy towards the southwest side of the circulation center. Perhaps a sign of organizing, but somewhat struggling with interaction of PR. Too short of time to know for sure, but this needs to be watched, expect a leveling off in intensity over the next few hours. Interaction with PR will allow Irene to perhaps move north of Hispaniola.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quicker trough on the 00z GFS. About 1-2 degrees further west in latitude.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Glad I got rid of my house in Savannah two years ago. Sitting in Sandy Eggo and thinking and praying for everyone that is wondering about Irene's path. Always lurking but not much to say here. I am still a junkie - my best to everyone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5928. tarps3
HR 78

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR2:
Still 20-30miles from PR. -_-
Might manage Cat 1 before making its official landfall.



Only 5mph away, rather insignificant.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hunkerdown:
not per post 5885 its not, its further South at the 54 hours on this 00z run
same position
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5925. will40
i still dont think gfs is buying the GOM like the Nam did
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Interesting how the strongest convection has now developed off the Southern shore of PR. This could keep the center mostly offshore and allow it to keep strengthening.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
New steering layer

Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 5973 - 5923

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 134 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Light Rain
62 °F
Light Rain